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September 10: Words, Writers, and Southwest Stories: After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens

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‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Stories,’ a historically-based speaker series of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is excited to announce that it is hosting Eric Wagner for a live Zoom presentation on Thursday, September 10 at 6:00 PM. Wagner will deliver a presentation entitled, “After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens.” Registration is required.

On May 18, 1980, people all over the world watched with awe and horror as Mount St. Helens erupted. Fifty-seven people were killed and hundreds of square miles of what had been lush forests and wild rivers were to all appearances destroyed.

Ecologists thought they would have to wait years, or even decades, for life to return to the mountain, but when forest scientist Jerry Franklin helicoptered into the blast area a couple of weeks after the eruption, he found small plants bursting through the ash and animals skittering over the ground. Stunned, he realized he and his colleagues had been thinking of the volcano in completely the wrong way. Rather than being a dead zone, the mountain was very much alive.

Mount St. Helens has been surprising ecologists ever since and in After the Blast Eric Wagner takes readers on a fascinating journey through the blast area and beyond. From fireweed to elk, the plants and animals Franklin saw would not just change how ecologists approached the eruption and its landscape, but also prompt them to think in new ways about how life responds in the face of seemingly total devastation.

Wagner is a freelance writer and journalist from Seattle. He earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Washington for work he did on Magellanic Penguins in Argentina.  His essays and journalism have also appeared in Audubon, Smithsonian, and Earth Island Journal, among other places. He is the author of Penguins in the Desert and Reclaiming the Duwamish, both of which have been subjects of previous WW&SWS presentations. Eric lives with his family in Seattle.

Registration is required. Registered participants will be emailed a link to the presentation on the date of the event. Please register for this event by filling out the form below:

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